My Pap Smear Results Were Abnormal—Now What?

After you get a Pap smear, a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women, you'll receive a readout of your results. Your results can be normal, with no problems detected, or abnormal. 

If your Pap smear test has come back with an abnormal result, you probably have questions about what it means, and what you should do next. Dr. Mark Schumacher offers regular gynecological screenings like Pap smears, as well as follow-up treatment for patients with abnormal results, in Reno, Nevada.

During a Pap smear, we collect cells from your cervix, which is located at the lower, more narrow end of your uterus, at the top of your vagina. We test for indicators that may predict the future development of cervical cancer. With early detection, treatment can stop future cancers from developing, so getting your regularly scheduled Pap smear is a must.

Reading your results

If your Pap smear didn't detect any potential problems, your results will return as negative. A negative test is also called “normal.” Abnormal results return as a positive. Don't panic — a positive result doesn't mean that you currently have cervical cancer. A positive result only indicates that we discovered a certain type of cell. We can also check for the presence of viruses, like some types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that may promote the development of cancers. If present, these will register on your results as a positive. You might also get an unclear result. If your test is equivocal or inconclusive, it may not be possible to check if your cervical cells are normal.

Both positive and unclear results after a Pap smear will likely require further testing. If your results are inconclusive, you might need to wait for a month or two and try the procedure again. A positive result on a first test will need to be clarified further. We may perform a colposcopy, using a high-powered scope to look at tissues in your cervix, vagina, and vulva. If needed, we can take a biopsy from any areas that appear abnormal.

Regular testing is needed

Even with normal results, you'll need further Pap smears sometime down the road. So, no matter what your test results show, you should talk them over with your doctor, who can advise you about what kind of re-testing schedule will be best for your unique health care needs. Depending on your test results and health history, you may need further tests immediately, or in one, three, or five years.

If you have a test result you need help interpreting or need to schedule a regular Pap smear appointment, Dr. Schumacher is ready with compassionate, high-standard gynecological care. To make your appointment, call our office today.

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